Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Optimized Geek! I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, and today I have with us, Michael Morelli. He’s the founder of Morellifit, a health and wellness organization. Michael is a fitness phenomenon and he had this amazing transformation. He hit rock bottom, he’ll tell us his story, and he turned his life around. He built an amazing business in just 24 months. He created just amazing stuff like a whole product line. He has a huge fan base on social media, he’s got millions of followers on instagram, for example. He’s a force to be reckoned with. Some of his accomplishments are: He’s got a book coming out here in April 2017 called The Sweet Potato Diet. He just recently landed a publisher, the deal is done, and he’s set to be in bookstores in the spring of 2017. He created a bunch of different products. One of his most well-known is called HIIT Max, which is all about high intensity. He’s also got the 7-Day Detox Drop, Six-Pack Finishers, HIIT Max Elite, SpeedShred60, and Weights for Women. A number of really great products but like I said, he had to hit rock bottom before he was able to get the motivation he needed to really reboot his life. The final straw was the breakdown of his marriage so it’s going to be a really interesting, powerful story. You’re going to really get a lot out of his journey and we’re also going to learn a lot about workouts, nutrition, how to establish great habits, and how to create a transformation for yourself physically, mentally, or both. He also has other projects that he’s doing including a US and UK tour called, HIIT MAX Live, and has a certification program for trainers. He’s got a lot of cool stuff going on so it’s great to have you on, Michael!
Hey, first of all, thank you so much for having me. I look forward to sharing with your incredible audience. I’m going to provide some amazing value and take you through the trenches, if you will. I think all of us live really busy lives so it’s about finding that balance and making sure that you don’t put your health off too long because what we know is that, more often than not, for a lot of people, our health only becomes valuable once we begin to lose it. I just want to make sure that we’re putting priority there because the reality is, if our health isn’t good, the rest of the wheels fall off the bus, so to speak, and then we can’t work and can’t do the things that we’re passionate about and we alternately can’t live that fulfilling and impactful life.
Right. Well, health is everything and you’re right, we don’t appreciate it until we lose it. We need to change that around so that we put the priorities in proper order and look after this incredible vessel that we live in and make sure it’s in peak shape for optimal performance. So, speaking of which, what would be some of the-well, actually, let’s step back and I’m sure our listeners are dying to hear your story of struggle and hitting rock bottom. What happened and how did you get to where you’re at now with, what is it, two-million followers on instagram? I forget what the numbers are.
On instagram, we’ve got a combined following of just over four million with all of our pages and a network of about five million across all the platforms, including a very well-known and very-read newsletter, which is popping up on some of the other smaller platform so we’re trying to create touch points with the consumer just about everywhere. To spin off into my story, it all started-I shouldn’t say it all started-but rock bottom happened for me three years ago after drug abuse and lots of sex with multiple women and the bar business that led into a relationship that ended up in divorce and in the same month, I actually went through a divorce and bankruptcy. I had a business at that particular time so it’s actually the bar business, all the addictions, and then I met this woman. I left the bar business and I built a business and it was on a somewhat straight and narrow road and then the business was very successful in 2007 as a retail business. It ended up doing five million dollars in our best year and all of a sudden the addictions started to taunt me again and so, I started participating in those drug abuse and alcohol abuse so that the marriage deteriorated and I made some bad decisions and I had to file bankruptcy. At that point, if you could imagine, I was 185-pounds at 5’7” with 25% body fat, moving out of my wife’s place into an apartment, which was 1,000-square feet, and it’s all I could afford at the time going to the bankruptcy. I hit rock bottom. It was really, really rough. In fact, I couldn’t carry two bags of groceries up two flights of stairs without being winded and I thought to myself, “Something’s got to change. I can’t go on like this forever!” Interesting enough, a really good friend of mine, who has been in and out of my life, was very, very positive all the time. He has a lot of money so it could have been the money but he was just very positive and always made turn negative into positive, which is very uplifting. I’ll never forget when he came by the house just before New Years of that year-I believe it was 2013. He gave me a bible with the reading schedule and he said, “Mike, I think you need this,” and so, I cracked it open and I stared reading it and that led to sort of a spiritual journey that really awakened me to understand that I was in a really poor place. I’m not sure exactly, at that particular moment, in time where I found the motivation the strength but I guess, I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ultimately, that transpired into, “Hey, I’ve got to make some changes with my nutrition and training,” so I started reading some books and I started looking at Paleo, right? The Paleolithic era and how they ate and why they were in such good health. I started to look for ways to mimic what they were doing as far as nutrition was concerned. For training, I would do just basic stuff and I would string together circuits in my little apartment and what happened was pretty astonishing over the next 113 days. I lost 27 pounds of body fat. I went from 24-ish% percent body fat down to about 8. I saw my abs the first time in my life and that created some momentum in my life and almost gave me a purpose. I thought to myself, “Oh, gosh! If I can do this, I can teach other people to do it!” Keep in mind, the divorce and the bankruptcy are happening in the background, and I’ve got this momentum now in the foreground. Obviously, the bankruptcy caught up to me and the divorce was final and my apartment, at the time, went in with the bankruptcy so I moved back to my mom. I was hungry for information and as I moved in with my mom, I remember, if you go back to my YouTube channel, Morellifit is the channel, you’ll get the very first video going out almost three years that I posted-it was an ab routine. You know. Nerve racking nerves. You know even like a push the delete button. It was nerve-wracking, I even like to push the delete button. I was very nervous and I was rocking back and forth. I didn’t have a whole lot of-I didn’t go to school for this, obviously, and I didn’t have any certification that time. What I had was some momentum, I had motivation, I had a fire, and a newfound purpose and so, I just started creating content and then, what happened was, as I realize this, I said, “If anybody’s going to trust me, I’m going to have to get certified. I’m going to have to be like an authority.” Over the next six months, living in my mom’s basement, I’ve got five different certifications-everything from CPT, from ISSA, all the way through OPT, and RKC so five, really solid certifications and that really propelled me into the fitness space. Now, I know a lot more than most of the trainers out there or at least, that were in the social media space, right? So, I knew a lot more and I had more to offer and now, I had the knowledge with the personal triumph and transformation so I married the two and continue to post content. Well, then instagram got hot, I hit a trend, I started creating even more content, and all of a sudden, this thing served to spiral out of control and I started to gain new followers and even more momentum. It’s almost like I poured gas on the whole thing! Fast-forward to about six months, I launched my first product so for an entire year, I posted content without asking for any money. In fact, I launched my first program, HIIT MAX, which is something that we’ll talk about in this episode. It was almost awkward for me. I almost didn’t know how to ask for money because I’ve been giving away free stuff and free guides in PDF and all kinds of different things so I got the courage, I put myself out there, and wouldn’t you know, it took off almost from day one. On the first month, I think, we did like $10,000 in sales and all the sudden, it just really wound up, and we were doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales every single month. We continued this cycle of content community, making sure that the consumption of the content was there and just continued to progress. Now, we’ve got a supplement line, we’ve got lots of digital programs, we write custom meal plans, I’ve got an app coming out in the App Store, I’ve got a marketing for fitness entrepreneurs, I’ve got a book coming out, I’ve got a certification, and I’m going on tour, I’ve got about 12 people in office, and I’ve got four coaches now so this thing is sort of spiraling out of control but in a really good way. Now, it’s about balance for me. I’ve got two kids with the fiancée so that’s busy, and business is busy, and life gets away and so I think, what people want is to understand how I can actually do all this and stay sane in balance.
Yeah, that’s tricky. I mean, there’s a lot to manage. You said that you had hit six-figures a month, did you even have your supplement line by then or was that all from training materials?
Just from training materials. Multiple six figures.
Not just six figures. Multiple six figures.
That is impressive! My hat’s off to you for that. That is amazing!
You’ve continued to grow the business. You’ve really branched out into different areas like the supplement line called, Primal Body, right?
What is the tour that you’re doing? The HIIT MAX Live, is that a three-day seminar? Is that some sort of an intensive workshop? What is that exactly?
Yes, it’s actually two-fold. The first one is we invite people who want to exercise, we’re going to promote the app, people come, and I basically put them through a workout live. You know, “Grab your towel, grab your water, get down, and we’re going to do this together!” I actually motivate people through an entire workout and then I do autographs and things like a meet-and-greet afterwards so that’s the first component. The second component is actually that we’re launching a HIIT MAX certification. Trainers around the world will have access to the training materials so they can train their clients, whether they’re a 24-hour fitness inside a gym or they’re teaching boot camps in Central Park. That’s a two-day event where we teach the trainers how to put people through the class and the workout that I just told you about.
Right. And you also teach people how to make it a viable business and not just help train people but also to make a really good living doing it, right?
Yeah, that’s the key, right? If you get any one of these fitness certificationNASM, ISSA, they’re all really good, solid fitness certification. They give you a good understanding of how to go and train a client in a gym setting. What they don’t give you is the marketing and the business background-the business sense-and really, that’s the piece, right? That’s the missing link. It’s great if you know how to train people but if you can’t put it and package it the right way then it’s going to be hard to expand and grow and so, it’s basically marketing for fitness entrepreneurs so this is the component. If there are trainers or their fitness entrepreneurs who are looking for the marketing, the traffic, the lead generation, and understanding social media, this is sort of an academy that they then enter so that they can work with me hands-on in order for them to develop the skills to do well and create business for themselves.
Yup, very cool. It’s so important to fill out the whole picture and not just go out there and do something you’re passionate about and not work on making it a viable business at the same time. So, let’s circle back to the nutrition and workout stuff. What are some of the most important things for somebody who’s not necessarily in top shape to start implementing? What sort of habits, what sort of tools, equipment, apps, and etcetera are they going to need to have in place to start transforming their body?
Yeah, really good question! It’s unfortunate that there is so much misinformation out there and that there’s so much information that people have to decipher and sift through. I think it really causes an action. The reality is, we know that if you move more and eat whole foods from as close to nature as possible, you’re going to feel really, really good. The problem is that, we see trainers, fitness entrepreneurs, Victoria’s Secret models, and GQ guys who work out 60-90 minutes a day and so we feel, as a society or as the consumer trying to get fit, that those are who we have to model our life after and all the sudden, that becomes stressful. There’s no way that I can carve out 60-90 minutes and then with the commute to the gym, it’s 2 ½-hours and holy crap, I don’t know what I’m going to do. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. The reality is that, my program HIIT MAX is 15-20 minutes every other day with 30 minutes of hiking, biking, walking, jogging, and playing with your kids in the park in between those days. You know, we’ve sold 130,000 copies of this program. We’ve had major, major success from people all over the world and on every continent and it’s just about moving more and staying active. You don’t always have to go to the gym and spend 60 minutes there. As long as you’re moving and grooving, you create momentum for yourself, you start feeling good, the metabolism is revved up and fired, and then you feed it with nutritious, whole foods. That is really the bottom line equation. I mean, we’re all busy. We don’t have 60-90 minutes to spend in the gym but if you can give me 15-and I think the issue is that when people over-commit, they get stressed out. If I said, “Hey, give me 15 minutes today, could you commit to that?” Yeah, of course, you could commit to that and so, I think we break it down, simplify it, and attack.
Yup, and I think it’s important for people to realize that it’s not necessarily the length of the exercise that matters, it’s the intensity and the approach that you use. Like, going for an hour-long run may not be as good for you as a high intensity, 15-minute workout, depending on what that workout is.
It’s typically not. High-intensity interval training has got a laundry list of benefits. You can burn just as many, if not more, calories in the 15 minutes as you would by going on a walk or a jog and the reason being is what’s called the after burn effect or what’s also known as, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. What that means is that, when you are working really, really hard at high intensities, your body goes into O2 debt, right? That’s the heavy breathing and that’s what’s referred to as O2 debt. Well, what happens is that, 24-36 hours post-workout, your body then tries to repay that O2 debt so you’re constantly burning calories over the next 24-36 hours whereas, if you are on a treadmill going at four speed for an hour, once you get off, you stop burning those calories. A couple other things, right? It’s a fat-incinerating hormone, not to mention it’s time efficient because you can do it anywhere, and the nice thing about high-intensity training is, you know, is the improved VO2 max. I don’t know about you but when I’m working out and I’m done and tomorrow’s workout comes, I want to increase my level of fitness. If you’re constantly doing the same thing morning, noon, and night on a treadmill, or a bike, or whatever the mechanism or machine is, your body adapts to that and so your level of fitness never grows with it. That’s a big thing for me. To sum that up, it’s your metabolism’s inability to adapt to the higher intensity stuff. It’s just far more effective, far more time efficient, and I believe everybody should be doing it.
Yup, so for those listeners who aren’t familiar with the VO2 max, can you explain that?
Yes, so VO2 max is the maximal oxygen consumption. It’s the body’s maximum capacity to transfer and make use of oxygen in the muscles so, essentially, it reflects the person’s level of physical fitness as I mentioned. The more high intensity stuff that you do, essentially, your VO2 is going to expand.
Yup, and you say there are simple workouts that we can do from anywhere. Like, I’m in a hotel room at the moment. I don’t normally do podcast recordings from hotels and stuff because of the flaky Wi-Fi but if I’m traveling and I’m in a hotel, let’s say, the gym is not very good, what should I be bringing with me-like a band, your workout DVD-what sort of stuff do I need to have as kind of my essential gear?
Yes, so HIIT MAX can be done. There’s workouts that have one set of dumbbells, there’s body weight workouts, right? So, if you go to HIITMAX.com, you’ll see the program there. The price is so right and I did that because it’s almost-you know, the price is $20-and you’re probably like, “Holy crap, how can you do that?” The reality is, that’s the gateway drug for me. That allows me to build trust. It’s such a good program for that money that once you get that program and you actually put it to use and you experience the results, your level of fitness increases, and you start to look and feel better then, you’re in the community and then what I can do is, I can start to impact your life at an even deeper level with mindset stuff and other nutrition things so for me, it’s like the gateway as a much as like a gateway drug. Now, now we do have an app coming out-probably about three weeks away-but right now, if you would go to HIITMAX.com, you’ll see exactly what you get and you download it to your phone, and you use it right there in your hotel room. You can go to a park, you can go to one of the rinky-dink gyms in the hotel-basically, you just enough space for your body.
Yup, so by the time this episode publishes, I think the app will be out so be sure to include a link in the show notes to that app. Now, how does HIIT MAX compare with something like, P90X or Insanity?
Yeah, so we combined plyometric and strength to give you the best of both worlds. I believe in strength foundation so there’s lots of strength work. If you look at Insanity, it’s more plyometric-based and if you look at P90X, those workouts are really long, 60-90 minutes. So, we’re short-I’m asking you to go all out for 20, 40, 60 seconds followed by some rest or some active rest. The protocol is just different. The sequence of the exercises is different. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and have tweaked it over time to really maximize and be efficient with the person’s time, making sure that they get the lasting result that they’re ultimately after.
Right, and what are some of the most impressive success stories that you’ve had or heard of? I mean, you went from, what was it, 24% body fat to 8% within how many months?
It was 113 days.
113 days-that’s amazing! What would be some amazing examples of folks using your program?
Yes, so two guys actually come right off the top. A guy by the name of Bill, he’s 51-years-old and he lost 48 pounds in 12 weeks. That’s 90 days and more weight than I lost. Another one is, Brian Gordon. He’s lost a total of 86 pounds in four months. Those are two that I can just rattle off. Honestly, if you go to that site and you go to our blog, we’ve now have thousands of transformations. I mean, if you take in consideration, we’ve sold or helped over 200,000 people now through direct sales of products and programs and we impact, and in fact, millions of people, obviously, through social media but those are the two guys who really stick out because they were really overweight and they took action regardless of the challenge of being that overweight. You know, me at 185-pounds and 24% body weight, and you’ve got a guy like Brian who is in the 300 pounds and Bill was in the high 200 pounds and that makes it a lot more challenging so if they can do it, I certainly could do it and I did it and so, your listeners could definitely do it.
Yeah, yeah. For sure! Now, we get a sense for the difference among HIIT MAX, P90X, Insanity, and so forth. What about the difference in your line of supplements-Primal Body versus something like, Herbalife.
Yes, I’m really glad you went there because I’m very passionate about fitness and health in totality but for me, it’s about finding the gaps in the industry and then filling them better than anybody in the space. Primal Body is 5-total ingredients. My kids drink with me to give you an idea. It’s grass-fed Whey Isolate sourced from cows that are in New Zealand. It’s just more bio-available, which means your body’s going to actually absorb it. Our BCAA’s are sweetened with Stevia and Monk fruit. We’ve just gone above and beyond to make sure that there are no artificial flavorings, fillers, and just BS versus a company such as the one you mentioned or many of the companies in the industry where they used soy and they use artificial flavoring and color. If you look at that ingredient deck and it’s 10, 15, 25-I mean, I’ve seen supplements with 35-40 ingredients and it’s like, what’s that going to do to you long term? If you’re drinking a shake to absorb the protein to create or repair the muscle tissue after an intense workout and you’re not absorbing it because you’ve got all the fillers and all the gunk in it, what’s the purpose of drinking and buying it?
Yeah. So, what is the problem with soy because I have a sense for it, especially if it’s not organic, and then there’s some issues with it kind of mimicking estrogen and so forth but what, from your perspective, is the problem with consuming soy?
Yes, so you hit the nail on the head with the estrogen, especially in males, right? We want to make sure to keep the estrogen down and that actually acts as an amplifier or an intensifier so that’s first and foremost. I actually created a video on my YouTube channel that goes over this in detail from studies on causing cancer but I think, the main thing for me is thiit’s a filler now used in a lot of products. If you look at labels, it’s basically soy and corn. These commodities are so cheap and they’re cheaply-produced and they’re just pumping them into everything so when I hear that, there’s no way that I want cheap ingredients in my products and I don’t think people should be consuming that stuff. I mean, you Google it and you’re going to see a wealth of information that’s going to steer you away from soy. I just keep my clients off of it completely.
Yeah, especially the GMO stuff, which has-
Most all of it so yeah. Okay, so you have this approach to nutrition that you call, Custom Nutrition?
Earlier you talked about Paleo just briefly. How does the Custom Nutrition fit into the whole spectrum here of getting fit, low body fat, and so forth as there’s a lot of Paleo fanatics out there and people who are following a diet that’s based on just hitting certain macro numbers for their macronutrients? You know, everybody seems to have their opinion on the best way to diet. What is this custom nutrition thing and how is that different?
Yes, so based on thousands of trials now, what I’ve found is that people don’t know what to eat, when to eat, and how much and so, Custom Nutrition-in my opinion and I think no matter who you ask, you would probably get the same answer-there’s no nutrition, there is only custom nutrition. When I can take a look at your goals, when I can take a look at your measurements and your activity level, and I can get calculations-your BMR and your TDEE, I can create a plan around your wants, needs, and goals using the foods you like and leaving the food out that you dislike, and then creating a cheat meal every week around the food that you actually absolutely crave, I think that is the easiest way to stick to a diet. I mean, we literally develop this custom meal plan and tell you what to eat, when to eat, and how much for 12 full weeks so there is no more guessing. It’s like, okay, if it fits my macros, and okay, I just got to get to this many macros but then, what should I have at noon and should that meal be bigger than breakfast? What about if I train in the evening, what meal should I have there and how many macros should I have? Then, you’ve got the cookie-cutter stuff and then you’ve got Paleo and I had lots of success with Paleo. I started with Paleo but Paleo is, depending on where you want to go with your physique, Paleo certainly has got a-our custom attrition really is Paleo, it’s whole foods that are as close to nature as possible, we’re not recommending anything that’s not whole foods, but it’s actually a carb cycle and we can go into that if you like. It’s basically a Paleo with a few extras, still whole foods that we turn into a carb cycle. Even on Paleo, depending on where you want to go and where you want to take your physique, Paleo may get you half of the way there and all of a sudden, you dial it in with some custom nutrition, it’s going to take you the rest of the way very, very quickly.There’s no nutrition, there is only custom nutrition. Click To Tweet
Yup, and you mentioned cheat days. I think this is an important point that cheating is okay as long as you plan for it. If you don’t plan for it then you feel like, “Oh, I’ve fallen off the wagon!” even though you just had one candy bar and then, you say, “All right, I failed so I might as well as fail spectacularly,” and then you’re completely off the plan. What does a cheat day or a cheat meal look like? How does somebody kind of plan to cheat instead of just cheating because they lost their willpower?
Yeah, so really good question and really good stuff there. We like to call it “reward meals.” You hit all of your meals throughout the week, we actually planned a meal for you so typically, this is going to be a day where you exercise, this is also going to be as a result of being on track, and then it’s a reward meal. It’s one meal-it’s not a day, it’s not two days, and it doesn’t spiral out of control. You’re actually rewarded with a meal, your favorite meal, which is an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert, and you’re entitled to that and it’s all calculated in. People are like, “How can I do that and still hit my goals?” It’s because we calculated it in. We know your BMR, which is your basal metabolic rate and your resting heart rate, and we look at your TDEE with activity, which is basically your total daily energy expenditure, which means that you’re going to burn X amount of calories every single day with your activity. We take a look at these numbers then we factor the reward meal into the program so that there is no guilt and you can understand and you know come Thursday or Friday or whenever that meal is, you can have that meal and feel good that it’s not going to derail your progress.
Yup, and you mentioned carb-cycling so can you describe that?
Yes, so again, what I have found, I’ve been through Paleo, I’ve been low carb, no carb, I’ve been low fat-you name it and I’ve done it. I’ve done The Zone diet, I’ve done Atkins. Carb-cycling, in my opinion, is the best and I’ll tell you why: Your body always adapts to the conditions you impose on it. I’m sure some of the listeners have experienced this or have known somebody who has experienced this. You’re going on a calorie deficit diet, doctors are recommending 1,200-1,500 calories, even 1,000-calorie diets and it just blows my mind because what happens is that you lose weight at first but then your metabolism adapts to the conditions you impose on it so it’s going to flat line and what’s going to happen is that., even at 1,200 calories, which is far below and a crazy deficit, you’re going to stop losing weight. You’re going to come to a plateau and when you reintroduce carbs and food, that’s when you blow up and gain all that weight back so that’s the issue. Carb-cycling continues to shock your body because what carb-cycling is, is that it balances the anabolic in the catabolic states. Anabolic, meaning gaining lean mass. Catabolic, meaning fat loss. It balances these two and so from one day to the next, you’re fluctuating your calories and your carbs so your metabolism never has an opportunity to adapt to the conditions you impose because the conditions continue to change over time. We shuffle the calories around, we shuffle the carbohydrates around, and you get the best of both worlds because you’re burning fat and you’re building muscle throughout the entire 12 weeks.
Right, and this approach of shocking your body so it doesn’t get used to or adapting to a particular nutrition regime is important also when we’re talking about exercise regime too like, that’s why such a thing as much muscle confusion is talked about in workouts to kind of vary things and not get your body used to any particular workout regime because then you don’t get as much impact from it.
Yeah, you hit the nail on the head-the same thing applies there. In fact, my workouts from week to week change. I did burpees the last couple of days and I haven’t done burpees in a while. In my workouts or sequence, something is always changing. If you don’t change something-again, your body is going to adapt and you’re going to stop changing. You’re going to stop changing in the form of fat loss, you’re going to stop changing with the form of lean muscle gains, whatever your goals are, you’re going to plateau. I mean, it’s just the way it works. I take that same philosophy like you just mentioned. I apply it on the nutrition side too. I mean, if it works for training and you’re trying to confuse your body and it’s all about the metabolism, why not do the same thing on the nutrition side? I mean, for me, that’s logical and it makes sense. What we found out, after doing 35,000 custom plans in just the last year, is that our success rate is 97-98% and I’m willing to bet that the few percent that don’t have success are really people who either have hormonal issues, which is a much deeper-seated issue, or just aren’t following plan.
Right. So, what sort of metrics are important to track to know that you’re on the right track? Do you track macros, which would be the total intake of proteins, fat, and some carbs? Do you track, I don’t know, your fat percentage and heart rate? What sort of things are important to track so you know that you’re heading in the right direction?
Yes, so those are all good metrics. If I’m looking to hit a fitness goal, fat loss, lean muscle gains, whatever it is, I think there are two ways to go about it. I think if I’m just starting out and I can do this on my own, I’ve got lots of willpower, I’m very motivated, I eat, potentially, whole foods from as close to nature as possible where you’re talking lean meat, lots of veggies, a little bit of fruit, a little bit of starch, no sugar, and no alcohol so that is one approach. The other approach is, letting us design a custom meal plan so you don’t have to keep track of your macros, you don’t have to think like, okay, three ounces a salmon, two ounces of brussel sprouts, and a handful of nuts. Okay, I can do that, right? When you ask people to keep track of their macros and their calories and all the stuff on their own, I think it becomes very stressful and I believe that people fail as a result of that so I think it’s one of the other-either you eat whole foods that are close to nature as possible, you got lots of weight to lose, and you’re awesome, and you can do it or you’ve lost a lot of weight, you’ve had a plateau custom nutrition or you’re just one of those people who are not very good or not very motivated and have a hard time holding yourself accountable then right at the gate, a custom nutrition plan makes sense for you because, literally, you print it out or you pull it up on your iPad or iPhone and you just follow it like, here: eat nuts, eat beef jerky, eat salmon, eat chicken, eat steak, eat fish, and eat lamb, right? It’s really, really easy when you say, hey, this is what you’re eating right now. Go make this!
Mm-hmm. Now, what if it’s a vegetarian or a vegan who is on the plan because none of that food interests me-I’m a vegetarian. I do eat fish. I’ve reintroduced that in my diet in the last year or so but I don’t eat any other meats and no other seafood too.
We do vegan and vegetarian plans every single day by the hundreds so we’re very well-versed. We give you options-quinoa, rice protein, pea proteins. We just structure it, we take the meat out.
Mm-hmm. And so, what sort of other habits do you think are important for somebody to, I guess, it’s kind of a cascading effect if you’re establishing new habits, which are encouraging you to establish even more habits. Like, I use an app called Way of Life and I just put in these different habits that I want to start establishing and keeping and then I just mark them as either green or red depending on whether I hit it or didn’t then I get the sense of success, progress, and mastery like, okay, I can do this and clearly, I can handle even more habits, and then it’s just kind of a self-reinforcing thing. Conversely, you start slipping on some of these habits and then you feel like you just can’t keep any of them so, what do you tell people what they need to do in order to get disciplined about not just their fitness but in the overall running their lives?
It all stems from awareness, right? For me, it’s becoming more and more self-aware and so I believe that one of my missions is to help people peel back their layers of consciousness to become more self-aware, to understand the ramifications of poor choice after poor choice after poor choice leads to diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, and what are the ramifications if I don’t start making good choices so we can always pivot and flip flop and say, okay, I know I need to work out but I don’t feel like working out. Well, all the sudden, you don’t feel like working out a week, two weeks, three years, five years, ten years go by and then what, right? I think if we become self-aware and we gain control of our mind, we can start making better choices. What we know about habits is that they trigger behavior reward and so, there’s always a trigger involved, whatever that may be, and then there’s a behavior that follows the trigger and then, typically, we feel good as a result of the behavior. You know like in smoking a cigarette, being stressed out is the trigger, smoking cigarette is the behavior, and the reward is the sensation that you get from smoking a cigarette so we have to fix the trigger. What’s the trigger? Stress. Okay, when I get stressed, I’m not going to go for a cigarette. I’m actually going to go for a walk and so we have to condition our minds through self-awareness to take control and understand that it’s really just breaking it down.
Mm-hmm. And so, what would be some ways to get that awareness that have worked for you and have worked for your clients? Is it like, mindfulness meditation? Is it journaling? What sort of things?
Yes, it’s both of those. I wake up, I listen to-have you ever heard of the Headspace app?
I love the Headspace app! It’s 10 minutes and you can set it for as long as you want but initially, you go through ten days and it’s ten minutes and that puts you in a really good frame of mind. From there, you can journal dump, right? People who had lots of success with just dumping out are anxious or stressed out because we have got so much in our mind and we just have to dump it so often times, a brain dump is good. I often find myself meditating halfway through the day and do some Headspace app halfway just to break up the day. I’m also going to give you a secret sauce: In the morning, every single morning, I take CoQ10, Vitamin C, Acetyl L-Carnitine, and Ashok Ganda. I take these four supplements every single morning and they really-sometimes, I take Ginkgo Biloba as well for memory-but I take these four or five supplements every single morning and they create a focus and an awareness that allow me to really be clear so I definitely, definitely highly-recommend that stack first thing in the morning with a lot of water.
Yeah, that’s great. My fiancée just recently started taking Ashok Ganda and she loves it. It’s been really amazing for her so that’s a great tip!
Yeah, I love that! And I know you mentioned that you’re going to have a special guest next week, I don’t want to ruin it but I buy Glutathione from him and that stuff is amazing too so I take Glutathione in the morning too.
Yup, yup! So, I’ll spill the beans, we’re going to have Dave Asprey from Bulletproof on. He’s got a great product line, The Bulletproof stuff. I don’t drink coffee myself so I don’t do the Bulletproof coffee but the brain octane and yeah, he has some really great stuff. I’m vegetarian as I mentioned so I don’t do the, what’s the protein, the collagen.
Yeah, his stuff is high-end. I use his Brain Octane, I use the Glutathione but I don’t drink his coffee because I’ve actually got my own coffee so I drink my own coffee. He’s a solid guy. I’ve never met him personally but we have some mutual friends and he’s just an amazing spirit and an amazing soul. He’s really trying to help people do the same thing that I am doing.
Yup. So, you have a line of coffee. Can you elaborate a bit more in that? I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t really appreciate the differences between different blends and different qualities of coffees and so forth. What makes your coffee different?
Yes, my coffee, first of all, it’s called Grind. You can go to MorellisCoffee.com to grab it. Next thing is the differentiator. First of all, I’m a coffee snob so I’m doing the pour over. I spend 10-15 minutes in the morning grinding my beans, the gooseneck bottle, pouring it all over, and making sure it’s just right and so for us, first of all, it’s fair trade and that means, people are paid fair wages to yield the crop. The second thing is, it’s the number one, so it’s organic so it’s pesticide-free, which is huge for me because everything I put in my body is scrutinized so I want to make sure that I went above and beyond and it’s actually, Eco-Logica, which is the number one certification for organic beans and that just means that it’s actually certified at the origin so it doesn’t come here and then go through the loopholes and then become organic-certified. It’s actually certified there at the origin. It’s Costa Rica. It’s a dark roast and I’ll tell you what, I’ve tried hundreds of different coffees and when I travel, I always love to go to the best coffee house because I’m looking for the best of the best. I always look on Yelp and then I get recommendations and I haven’t found anything that even comes close to it and I’m being completely honest. That goes for a lot for just what we do in general. Like, if I can’t say, “Hey, this is the absolute best,” I’m not interested, I want the absolute best-from the customer experience and user experience standpoint, from flavor and taste, and then from a nutritional sampling as well so these beans, the energy that they give you is sustained, it’s lasting, there’s no crash, no jitters, and that’s largely because there are no pesticides and no gunk inside the beans.
Yup, and one thing that we covered in a previous episode with Shaahin Cheyene who has this Excelerol, which is a mind-performance supplement, is that not all caffeine is created equal. Like, you get the low-quality caffeine in a Coca-Cola versus the slower acting or kind of slower or to get absorbed caffeine that might be in a Matcha shake, for example-completely different forms of caffeine and very different in terms of how good they are for you. So, caffeine in a really good form cannot just keep you awake and help you to perform-like, if you’re studying for exams or something-but it also has some positive health benefits. Do you want to elaborate more on that?
Yeah, you’re absolutely right! The quality of caffeine is very, very important. Oftentimes, people want-I’m going to go off in a little bit of a tangent because everybody wants to short cut and they want the fat-burners but the reality is that, caffeine is the number one most underutilized fat-burner on the market and really, what you’re after is just natural caffeine so the more natural the caffeine, the better. Oftentimes, when you are drinking coffee certainly from Starbucks and some of the cheaper stuff that’s out there, those beans are coming in there straight full of pesticides and that messes with the caffeine content, the ratios, and everything else. We’ve done our due diligence. My partner found out that I was a coffee snob and he’s like, “I got this best of the best,” and I’m like, “Come on, man, I’ve had the best, you can’t tell me you’ve got the best,” and sure enough, I started drinking it and I kept trying it and I wanted to make sure it was right and so I tried it multiple, multiple times and now I started drinking it and then what I did is, I ordered my favorite coffee, which is a Valentine Coffee out in Wisconsin. I flew that in because I’m in Arizona now and I wanted to just make sure that my grind that I was going to continue to consume, my grind, over what I was initially better and sure enough, I had the Valentine and I switched back over to my grind so I’m really impressed certainly with the beans and with the overall feeling that you get from drinking it.
Yup, very good! Let’s go back to apps for a moment because you mentioned the Headspace app and of course, you have your app coming out here shortly. What other apps would you recommend for people to use? I mentioned Way of Life is a great app for starting and keeping some habits I also journal with the Day One app both on my phone and on my Mac. I use My Fitness Pal so does my fiancée. I’m just wondering what would be your favorites?
Yes, so, unfortunately, I don’t have a lot to add there because I’m doing more social media than anything from my phone. I’m on Twitter pretty much most of the day. I use Voice Memos a lot. I use Evernote a little bit. I use the notes. If I’m looking for information regarding tech, it’s TechCrunch. I love TechCrunch! I will say this, if you like to read, one of my favorite apps for reading is actually called Blinkist. It is a summary for just about every single book. In fact, they’re so good that oftentimes, I feel like I need to read the book so I’ll buy the book and I’ll actually go through the book and read the Blinkist, only to find out that I really didn’t need to read the book so it’s a really, really great way to absorb a lot of information and a lot of books very quickly.
Yup! In fact, I just signed up for Blinkist. There was a really great deal on AppSumo and yes, I got a year subscription to their premium. I just started listening to a few things, I haven’t really gotten into it yet. It’s a good trigger for me to get back into that app and start listening to some of those summaries. Okay, cool! The last question I want to ask you is to just elaborate a bit more on the spiritual awakening you had because I had a very profound spiritual awakening myself. I was like agnostic for my whole, adult life and through my childhood too until 2012 when I went to India. I was on a Tony Robbins’ Platinum Partner trip and we got these blessings from monks and after one of those blessings, it was this profound experience and I experienced God. Everything was so vivid and it was like, my life was in technicolor for at least an hour after the blessing, which they called a Deeksha, and the monks put their hands on your head and passed divine grace into you. I went from agnostic to spiritual and what a difference in my life! I mean, all these miracles start happening. Things that are just beyond any kind of coincidence just happen on a regular occurrence. It’s just amazing so I know the power of a spiritual awakening and what it can do. You do too so let’s fill in our listeners a bit more on what that’s like.
Yes, so initially, it wasn’t so I’ve just sort of been all over the place trying to-for me, it’s about truth, it’s about getting information, it’s about growing, it’s about learning, and it’s about the experiences of life. I almost feel like so many people miss life because they’re trying to get experiences or specific experiences out of life rather than just trying to experience life. For me, it started in the bible and I spent a year and a half probably in the bible, reading it every single night. Basically, going to church. If it wasn’t going to church, I was attending an online church every single weekend and that had a profound impact on me. I was memorizing bible verses and so that had a really, really, really big impact on me. That sort of transpired into some meditation and some yoga stuff that led me into the Headspace app, The Untethered Soul, The Power of Now, Conscious Language, and NLP. I got my NLP certification, which is hypnosis, some meditation, and some things that’s going on there. It’s really sort of evolved and for me, it’s just about continuing on and trying to get as much information as I possibly can to be the best that I can be. My goal every single day is to just be a little bit better than I was the day before. The nice thing about that is, I get to define what that is. I look at all the areas of my life, I try to just really try to grow. You know, for example, all through this, I read a biography of Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs did a lot. He was actually a Buddhist, not sure if he was a full-blown Buddhist but he did a lot of practice. He actually had monks come and work with him. He read a book, let’s see if I can pull it up but what is it, it’s something mind. I forgot exactly what the book was but I actually downloaded the book and I started reading that over and over again. I’ve just been all over the place with regards to my own spiritual awakening interpretation of God and the universe and I’ll tell you, it’s amazing when you get connected. There’s nothing like truly being connected and certainly, I will continue to grow and become even more connected to the universe but it’s a really special feeling and it sounds like you had an amazing experience so I’m pretty sure that you could shed some of your own light on that.
Yeah, it’s been incredible! Looking back, I was basically sleepwalking through my life for most of my life. I mean, we’re just on autopilot. For example, I recently interviewed Byron Katie and just to be aware of your thoughts aren’t even true a lot of the times. You just have thoughts and we’re like receivers and we could pick up radio stations that have good music and some that have bad music and we don’t have the kind of critical thinking about, “Well, is this thought even true? Is this a helpful thought or is it a destructive thought? Does this thought serve me?” then taking it just as deep as you can go. Once you discover this spiritual realm, the rabbit hole runs deep and, as you say, can go all different directions. I don’t know if the book you were thinking of that Steve Jobs loved was the Autobiography of a Yogi but that’s definitely a must-read. That was one book that he made sure to give out to a lot of people that he cared about. It was written by Yogananda who lived in the previous century and an amazing, amazing individual. Yeah, any last thoughts you want to leave our listeners with?
Well, first of all, thanks so much for having me. I enjoyed sharing. We went out on a bunch of different directions but at the end of the day, I hope I provided value for your listeners. That’s what it’s all about for me-it’s about the value I bring. You can find my organization at MorelliFit.com and you can find me @MorellisWorld on instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. I think I’ll leave everybody with-to sort of finish off and polish off what you were just talking about when we were talking about thoughts-one thing that I’ve learned is that, we’re not our thoughts. We are the witnesser of those thoughts. We sit back, we’re the silent watcher of those thoughts. We’re not our feelings or our emotions. We experience the world with feelings and emotions and the last caveat is that, we’re not our body, right? We are the soul and we experience the world and look at our body in the mirror and it’s just interesting that once you start to place those dynamics, life becomes, you know, we’re this people who are here really, really quickly uplift and then we’re gone and this vast universe has been around for millions of years. We’re just this little people spinning in this little area on the continent so when you start to really grasp it and understand, problems really become much, much smaller and very minute.
When you think about the big picture.
Yeah, that’s profound. Well, thank you so much, Michael, for joining us and for imparting so much wisdom and sharing your journey and everything you went through. It’s just refreshing to hear such vulnerability, openness, and such desire to share and make the world a better place. You’re a gift to humanity.
All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. Listeners, go ahead and check out the transcript, checklist, and show notes on the OptimizedGeek.com. I’ve been your host, Stephan Spencer. Again, you’ve got to put the stuff in action-it’s not enough to just passively hear it so, go ahead and download that checklist and take some action. Will catch you on the next episode. Stephan Spencer, signing off!
Links & Resources Mentioned
- Morellifit on YouTube
- Primal Body
- Hiit MAX
- Custom Nutrition
- Headspace app
- Grind Coffee
- Shaahin Cheyene on The Optimized Geek
- Voice Memos App
- The Untethered Soul
- The Power of Now
- Byron Katie on The Optimized Geek
- Michael on instagram
- Michael on Twitter
- Michael on Snapchat
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ The first step is to make small, positive changes. Just get moving in any way you can, whether that is a 15 minute HIIT workout, or going for a walk around your neighborhood.
☑ Work on changing habits that are holding you back from reaching your goals. Be aware of what you do in stressful situations, and try to create positive habits around those feelings.
☑ You don’t have to choose a one-size-fits-all diet to become healthier. Choose foods that are in their natural state, such as organic vegetables, fruits, and lean meats-or, use Custom Nutrition for a personalized plan.
☑ Coffee is one of the most underutilized fat burners! Drink an organic brand for the most benefit.
☑ Always read labels. If something includes artificial ingredients, colors and dyes, or soy-just stay away.
☑ While reading labels, go for products that have less than 5 ingredients. There is a better chance of everything being close to natural if the ingredient list is short.
☑ To raise your awareness and work on your habits, try meditation with journaling. The combination will help you to focus, and track, where you can improve.
☑ Becoming healthier doesn’t mean that you can’t ever have the foods you crave again. Create your meal plan for the full week, so you are prepared to fit the meal into your diet without going over your calorie goal.
☑ Ginkgo Biloba helps with memory and brain function. Take it in the morning to take advantage of the benefits throughout the day.
☑ If you are a vegan and vegetarian, focus on getting protein from foods like quinoa, pea protein, and brown rice protein.
About Michael Morelli
Michael Morelli is the founder of Morellifit, a health and wellness organization that has created a line of nutritional supplements and fitness programs, including HIIT MAX, which is all about high intensity interval training. After hitting rock bottom and going through a personal transformation, he sought out to learn from the best in the industry, completing 5 fitness certifications in under 6 months. Combining that knowledge with real world training, Michael has helped to change thousands of lives through proper fitness and nutrition.